Tuesday, January 04, 2011


This evening, the array of personal and communal affairs I like to call "things" are looking up. But first, I want to address something I forgot in this morning's post, something dearly important, the Sri Lankan almsround

Almsround in Sri Lanka is a wonderful thing, something I feel quite honoured to be a part of. The whole village comes out, the majority of houses, they put real, mostly vegetarian, food into the bowl, and they have such sincerity about it (not to mention astonishment in some cases). Some people seemed quite perplexed at first, asking me where I was going (and me feeling a bit proud to know what they said for once). Once I say, "pindapata", the perplexion turns to delight and if they have biscuits, I get biscuits; if they have bananas, I get bananas (or the monkeys do, mostly). Lately, though, word has spread, and I can only go a short walk out of the monastery before my bowl and bag are full and I have to turn around. Short of getting the monks here to go on almsround, I'm going to have to recruit more foreign monks...

Which, comes to the second nice thing about today, that I finally had a fairly clear conversation about the new monastery under development. I have some reassurances, and am willing to keep my stock invested in the company, so to speak, at least until the market changes... so to speak. So, the three foreigners who have already submitted application to ordain should breathe a tentative sigh of relief, and the rest who have been holding back should consider investing. When I returned from Colombo today (there and back with no money is doing pretty well, I should say), there were ten pictures in my gmailbox. You tell me, is this worth the requisite investment of time and energy?

[gallery link="file" columns="4"]

The final note is about my visa, and confirms that I do indeed have support here. I was sent to a man in a condo in Colombo who made a phone call and told me to go see another man. He mentioned being someone's secretary, and that the man I was to see was the head of immigration. I asked him again what his position was and he said so-and-so's coordinating secretary, some name I can't remember and couldn't pronounce.

Me: "Who is that?"
He: so-and-so.
Me: <blank look />
He: "The president."
Me: "Oooooh."

At the immigration, I'm sent up to the fourth floor where I wait and am eventually brought by a kindly man who is ostensibly the head of immigration down to the third or second floor, past the line of people waiting to get into the "Extensions" office, past a row of seated monks, novices and even a Bhikkhuni waiting for visa extensions, and into an office where I was told that all I need is for the so-and-so-secretary man to arrange a letter of recommendation from the Buddhasasana office, fill out an application, bring them with some photos, and poof: free one-year monk visa. Beat that, Thailand.

Apologies for a somewhat pleased tone but, after what I've been through, it's nice to know there are still two sides to every coin. And of course, I still don't have things like a pillow, mattress or mosquito repellent, my bathroom door doesn't close (and the inner handle broke off so if I could close it, I'd be locked in), and the toilet sprayer is broken so I have to... well, in the words of the people at Facebook, "it's complicated." So, no accusations of spoiledness, please.

Finally, your dhamma quote of the day, as a random thank you, to you all, for reading the dreary details of my strange life:

yo ca pubbe pamajjitvā, pacchā so nappamajjati.
somaṃ lokaṃ pabhāseti, abbhā muttova candimā.

He who having been heedless is heedless no more,
illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.

-- Dhp. 173


  1. Viscid11:43 AM

    Exciting stuff, Bhante. The land looks a bit swampy, but the surrounding area looks very nice. The experience of having this thing built and ordaining foreign monks would be well worth potential problems. Gonna need a lot of mosquito nets.

    p.s. I'm glad you don't have to shake hands when you greet people.

  2. fairworld3:01 PM

    On mosquitoes,heard that many monks got sick from malaria in Asia.Don't the monastery provide mosquito nets and repellents for them? A lot of monasteries in Asia look so lavishly renovated,assume that the welfare of monks/nuns who are trying to be noble are well taken care of with some dignity.At the least, provide them with beds, mattress,blankets & pillows and not sleep on the floor as it is not good for health and bad for self-esteem. Mosquito repellents and nets are mandatory in Asia as it is a tropical country.Monks/nuns are there to train the minds and not endurance of the body. It is not wise not to provide all these requisites when they are readily available instead of having them fall sick that will cost more in medical bills and might cost their lives too.

    Buddhism should be a wise religion and not a torture chamber or a test on who is more macho. The mind has no genders. Buddhism should be user-friendly,current and relevant in today's world. Buddha had incense to ward off mosquitoes in the forest those days, now we have repellents.Why deprive them who want to be noble? Are we wise or stupid?